Dramatic Fires Engulf Córdoba: Homes Ablaze and Evacuations Underway

Dramatic Fires Engulf Córdoba: Homes Ablaze and Evacuations Underway

10th October 2023, 03:52 p.m. EST (Updated: 6:35 p.m. EST)

In a tragic turn of events, wildfires have erupted in the province of Córdoba, leading to the evacuation of dozens of residents from various localities. The escalating flames have reportedly reached multiple homes across several regions.

Residents of Villa Carlos Paz, a city not historically known for grape cultivation but rather its scenic beauty, are working hand in hand with firefighters to control the spreading flames. Initial fires ignited on Monday, notably affecting the "400 homes" area, a crucial connector between Villa Carlos Paz, Cabalango, and Tala Huasi in Punilla. Due to the severity of the smog permeating their residences, at least 30 inhabitants from this region were evacuated between Monday night and Tuesday morning.

Prompted by alarming reports of the advancing flames, brigadiers and the police swiftly arrived at the scene. Subsequent investigations and discussions with locals led to the arrest of 27-year-old Ulises Xarate. Xarate is currently the sole suspect accused of initiating the blaze. He was charged with reckless arson by prosecutor Jorgelina Gómez. Reports suggest Xarate admitted to starting a small fire to boil water for coffee, which spiraled out of control, leading to one of the major active fire spots in the province.

According to Ulises, he lost control of the fire, which quickly spread over several kilometers. Local Security Ministry data indicates that the primary wildfire is situated in Valle de Punilla, impacting several localities, including Villa Carlos Paz. Some houses in Mayú Sumaj and Playa de Oro have already been consumed by the fire.

Given the "interface risk" looming over homes located between Playas de Oro and Mayú Sumaj, provincial authorities had previously opted for a "preventive evacuation". Some fires, like the one in Barranca Yaco, Sinsacate jurisdiction, were successfully contained. However, others, especially in areas like San Clemente and Potrero de Garay, remain alarmingly active. Some rekindled due to adverse weather conditions, even after they were initially controlled.

To combat the relentless fires, the National Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development dispatched three water-dropping aircraft, an observer, and a helicopter. Furthermore, 14 fighters from the National Central Brigade, equipped with three 4x4 trucks, were deployed for on-ground operations.

Nationwide resources have been marshaled at the behest of the provincial request, with both national and local forces collaborating to counteract the raging fires.

A local resident, in an interview with TN, recounted the harrowing experience: "It's an explosion of fire. It's terrible. There was a curtain of smoke, of fire, of everything. We must keep away from areas where firefighters are working as they're using heavy vehicles."

The province reports that multiple firefighter units are battling not only the flames but also the inclement weather, which is exacerbating the situation. Temperatures are soaring around 35°C, with wind gusts reaching speeds of up to 70 kilometers per hour at times.

The fire, which began on Monday night, was reportedly caused by a young man trying to boil water for coffee, leading to catastrophic consequences. Concerned residents from nearby localities are joining in to help, attempting to dampen the area with water from their swimming pools.